20 Best Museums

Winter is here, and now is the best time to take advantage of indoor activities offered at Arkansas’ many specialty museums. The Natural State has hundreds of museums that reflect its diverse offerings — from arts and culture, to history and military, to math and science to the whimsical, Arkansas has a museum to fit your interest. Many museums offer free admission, too. Here are 20 museums you don’t want to miss.

Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Air and Military Museum.

Arkansas Air and Military Museum

The history of aviation and American military conflicts in Arkansas explored through displays of original artifacts and aviation memorabilia.

4290 S. School Ave., Fayetteville
Hours: Saturday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sunday-Friday,
11 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Admission: $5-$10
arkansasairandmilitary.com

Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum

Visitors experience the sights, sounds and smells of submarines when they step aboard the historic submarine USS Razorback. The museum also features exhibits on the tugboat USS Hoga and ships bearing our state’s name, including a battleship and a missile cruiser.

120 Riverfront Park Dr., North Little Rock
Hours: vary
(501) 371-8320
Admission: $2-$7.50
aimmuseum.org

Clinton Presidential Library and Museum

The William J. Clinton Library and Museum sits on the banks of the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock. The library is home to a replica of the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room, a theater, the presidential limousine and ever-changing exhibits.

Exhibits
Art of Africa: One Continent, Limitless Vision and Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu run through Feb. 19.
1200 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 – 5 p.m.
(501) 374-4242
Admission: $6-$10; free admission for active duty military, UACS employees, school groups and children under 5.
clintonlibrary.gov

Delta Cultural Museum

The rich history of the Arkansas Delta is brought to life through engaging exhibits, historic properties and educational programs at the Delta Cultural Center, located in historic downtown Helena. Just one block from the Depot Museum, the Delta Cultural Center Visitors Center is home to “King Biscuit Time,” the longest-running blues radio broadcast in the world. Visitors can experience a one-of-a-kind live radio broadcast weekdays from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m.

Exhibits
“Old School: Remembering the Brinkley Academy” runs through Jan. 31.
“Civil War Roundtable of the Delta: David Sesser” – Feb. 20C
155th anniversary observance of the Battle of Helena,
April 13-15
“Civil War Roundtable of the Delta: The Sultana Tragedy,”
April 19
141 Cherry St., Helena
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
(870) 338-4350
Admission is free.
deltaculturalcenter.com

Esse Purse Museum

On permanent display is “A Century of Women and Handbags 1900-1999,” showcasing the evolution of the 20th-century American woman, decade by decade. Special exhibits are offered throughout the year.

1510 Main St., Little Rock
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-
3 p.m.
(501) 916-9022
Admission: $8-$10
essepursemuseum.com

Galaxy Connection Museum

Jon Clowers’ personal collection of toys, props and life-size characters from Star Wars, as well as superheroes is a fun experience for kids and those who are children at heart. Guests are encouraged to take photos and interact with many of the props and exhibits. Semi-guided tours and private VIP tours with the owner are available.

626 Central Ave, Hot Springs
Hours: Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.;Sunday 1-5 p.m.
501-276-4432
Admission: $8
thegalaxyconnection.com

Photo courtesy of the Gangster Museum of America.

Gangster Museum of America

Visitors learn about the famous spa town’s gangster past in this museum, which focuses on Hot Springs from the 1920s to the 1940s. The museum highlights the stories of many notorious gangsters, such as Lucky Luciano, Al Capone, Bugs Moran and Frank Costello, who were known to vacation in The Spa City.

510 Central Ave., Hot Springs
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
(501) 318-1717
Admission: $6-$15; children under 8 are free.
tgmoa.com

Heifer Village

Heifer Village offers year-round programs and events for school groups, families or anyone who wants to drop in and learn about global issues and solutions to world hunger.

1 World Ave., Little Rock
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
855-3HEIFER (855-343-4337)
Admission is free.
heifer.org

Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center

The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center includes a barn studio associated with Ernest Hemingway and the family home of his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer. Pauline’s parents, Paul and Mary Pfeiffer, owned more than 60,000 acres of land in Northeast Arkansas. During the 1930s, the barn was converted to a studio, where Hemingway wrote portions of A Farewell to Arms and several short stories. Both the home and the barn studio were named to the National Historic Register in 1982. Areas of emphasis for the Museum and Educational Center include literature of the period, 1930s world events, agriculture, family lifestyles and relationships and development of Northeast Arkansas during the Depression and New Deal eras.

1021 West Cherry St., Piggott
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tours begin on the hour. Saturday tours at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
(870) 598-3487
Admission is free.
hemingway.astate.edu

Historic Arkansas Museum

The Historic Arkansas Museum celebrates Arkansas history and heritage year-round with annual heritage events, festivities and living history reenactments. The property includes five pre-Civil War houses, including the oldest home still standing in Little Rock. Along the guided tours visitors encounter actors portraying original residents and see how early residents lived. The galleries feature Arkansas-made art and artifacts, and the museum has an interactive children’s gallery. The museum offers both permanent exhibits and rotating contemporary exhibits.

Exhibits
“We Walk in Two Worlds,” a permanent exhibit, tells the story of Arkansas’ first people.
“Natural Crafts: Fiber. Clay. Metal,” which runs through Feb. 4, features the works of Arkansas Arts Council 2017 Fellowship Recipients Sofia V. Gonzalez, Hannah May and Kerrick Hartman.
“All of Arkansas: Arkansas Made, County by County,” runs through March 11 and features fine, decorative and mechanical arts from all of Arkansas’ 75 counties.
“Gordon & Wenonah Fay Holl: Collecting a Legacy” continues in the Horace C. Cabe Gallery through Feb 4.
New Exhibits in 2018:
January 12 to (Close date TBD): “These Threads I Drew: Historical Needlepoint Samplers”
Jan. 12-April 8: Dustyn Bork and Carly Dahl
Feb 9-May 6 Kate Nessler and Barbara Satterfield
April 13-July 8 Experimental Photography Group Show
May 11- Aug. 5 Anais Daise and Holly Laws
June 8, 2018-April 16: Historical Quilts from the Permanent Collection
July 13-Oct. 7 Justin Bryant
Aug.10-Nov. 4 Linda Lopez and Marc Mitchell
Sept. 14 – Jan. 13, 2019: “Spirits of the Passage:  The Story of the Transatlantic Slave”
Oct. 7, 2018-Jan. 6, 2019: Olivia Tremble contemporary art
Nov. 9, 2018- Feb. 3, 2019: Elizabeth Smith and Katherine Strause contemporary art
200 E. 3rd St., Little Rock
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.
Admission is free.
historicarkansas.org

Mid-America Science Museum

The Mid-America Science Museum offers educational programming, hands-on activities and interactive video exhibits to engage visitors in science. In the Marvelous Motion Gallery, visitors explore basic concepts of physics, such as wave motion and kinetic energy. Visitors may also examine VisiVision, the first of three Rowland Emmett machines on display, or play with color filters and multiple lenses to learn about the scientific effects of light on our senses. The Mid-America Science Museum now has outdoor exhibits and a tinkering studio, a dome theater with a 180-degree viewing area for watching projection-style films, a skywalk and a Tesla Theater featuring the Guinness Book of World Record’s most powerful conical Tesla Coil.

500 Mid America Blvd., Hot Springs
Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.
Admission $8-10
midamericamuseum.org

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

This museum tells the story of the African-American experience in Arkansas. The center’s name is taken from the Mosaic Templars of America, a black fraternal organization founded in Little Rock in 1883, whose headquarters sat on the prominent West Ninth and Broadway location. This state-of-the-art museum complex has exhibits highlighting fraternal organizations, African American entrepreneurs and integration.

Permanent exhibits:
The History of the Mosaic Templars of America Building, Little Rock’s West Ninth Street Business District, The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, African Americans in Arkansas 1870 to 1970, black entrepreneurs and about the Mosaic Templars fraternal organization.
Events
Jan. 4 – Reception for the “Small Works on Paper,” an annual juried art exhibition featuring the artwork of Arkansas Artist Registry members.
Jan. 12 – King Holiday Legends Concert featuring Howard Hewett
Jan. 13 – I Am Not Your Negro film explores James Baldwin’s observations on American race relations.
Jan. 15 – MLK Day of Service
Feb. 3 – Documentary Premiere: Tell Them We Are Rising; panel discussion: Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) college presidents; exhibit opening of Arkansas Divine 9
Feb. 22 – Voices Without Borders Vocal Presentations
March 3 – Storytime with children K-12
March 20-22 – Spring Break Arts Camp K-12
April 7 – Storytime with children K-12
April 24 – Book signing: Maria Hoskins
May 5 – Storytime with children K-12
June 2 – Story time with children K-12
June 14 – Exhibit Opening: “Hair”
June 16 – Juneteenth Festival
501 W. 9th St., Little Rock.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission is free.
mosaictemplarscenter.com

Museum of Discovery

The Museum of Discovery is Arkansas’ oldest museum and now a premier science and technology center with a mission to ignite a passion for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Permanent exhibits include the Tesla Theater, Tornado Alley and Discovery Hall, which focuses on the ideas of quantities, shapes, space and patterns we observe every day and helps us gain a better understanding about how the world works. The Amazing You gallery examines how our bodies function. The Earth Journeys gallery showcases features that make Arkansas unique and also houses the second-largest live animal collection in the state. Animals range from hedgehogs to birds to snakes. Other specialty areas include a Tinkering Studio and Room to Grow, a space for kids under 6.

500 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock
Hours: Tuesday–Sat.: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday,1-5 p.m.; and Monday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: $8-10/per person
museumofdiscovery.org

Museum of Native American History (MONAH)

Visitors to MONAH are invited to “Walk Through America’s Past” for a glimpse into what life was like for America’s first inhabitants. The museum is divided into five time periods, depicting the constantly changing lives of the Native Americans, as seen through their artifacts. Some of the relics are over 14,000 years old.

Coming in 2018:
2018 Native American Cultural Symposium, July 14-17
Storytime at 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 14, Feb. 11, March 11, April 8, May 13, June 10, July 8, Aug. 12, Sept. 9, Oct. 14, Nov. 11, and Dec 9
Native Conversations (quarterly)
202 SW “O” St., Bentonville
Hours: Monday-Saturday,
9 a.m.-5 p.m.
(479) 273-2456
Admission is free.
monah.us

Old State House Museum

The Old State House was the original state capitol of Arkansas and has housed a number of other agencies and functions through the 20th century. It served as the Arkansas War Memorial, became the first home of the Arkansas State Police and held the offices of a number of statewide patriotic organizations. Today, it continues to play a vital role in preserving, sharing and celebrating the history of Arkansas and its people.

On exhibit through early 2018:
“True Faith, True Light: The Devotional Art of Ed Stilley” includes 28 of Stilley’s handcrafted instruments, an opportunity to listen to recordings of some of the instruments being played, several tools, including the Blessed Router and photos of Stilley at his rural Ozarks homestead, where he created the instruments.
300 West Markham St., Little Rock
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday: 1-5 p.m.                                              
9 a.m. to 8 p.m. the second Friday of each month    
Admission is free.
oldstatehouse.com

Bradbury Art Museum

Located in the Fowler Center at Arkansas State University, the Bradbury Art Museum offers contemporary art to the general public.

Exhibits
2018 Delta National Small Prints Exhibition, Jan 18 – Feb. 21
Robyn Horn, “Spatial Differences”
John Keech, “Wizards and War Games”
201 Olympic Dr., Jonesboro
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12-5 p.m.; Sunday, 2-5 p.m.; closed Mondays.
(870) 972-2205
Admission is free.
bradburyartmuseum.org

Photo courtesy of the Walmart Museum.

The Walmart Museum

The Walmart Museum features Walton’s 5&10, a world-class exhibit gallery about the Sam Walton and his family and business and The Spark Café Soda Fountain.

105 N. Main St., Bentonville
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m; Friday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Sunday, 12-9 p.m.
(479) 273-1329
Admission is free.
walmartmuseum.com

Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Arts Center.

Arkansas Arts Center

The Arkansas Arts Center’s permanent collection includes renowned works including drawings, contemporary crafts, paintings, photographs and prints.

Exhibits
“Form and Fear: New Work by Julia Baugh, Resident Artist – Ceramics” runs through Jan. 28.
“Becoming John Marin: Modernist At Work,” Jan. 26 – April 22
Marin is best known for his luminous watercolors of rural Maine and urban New York. This exhibition invites viewers to look over the artist’s shoulder as he created and honed the private sketches he would interpret into completed watercolors and etchings.
“A Luminous Line: Forty Years Of Metalpoint Drawings” by Susan Schwalb, Feb. 2 – April 29
Schwalb takes the traditional Renaissance media of silverpoint into the realm of abstraction, while retaining its beauty and serenity.
“Jann Greenland: What Might Be”, Feb. 6 – April 29
Arkansas Arts Center Museum School Jewelry & Small Metals Department Chair Jann Greenland shares her perspective on resources and possibilities. She combines the ordinary with the precious, the found with the fabricated and the imaginary with the real.
The 60th Annual Delta Exhibition, May 25 – Aug 26
57th Young Arkansas Artists Exhibition, May 8 – July 22
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
9th and Commerce Streets in MacArthur Park, Little Rock
arkansasartscenter.org
Admission varies.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation and designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. The permanent collection includes American masterworks as well as surprising, lesser-known gems from the colonial era to today. Sculptures grace both interior galleries and outdoor trails. Year-round temporary exhibits mean there’s always something new to see.

Exhibits
“Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” – Feb. 3 – April 23
Organized by the Tate Modern, London, “Soul of a Nation” is a look at how American culture was reshaped through the work of Black artists during the tumultuous ’60s, ‘70s and early ‘80s.  Crystal Bridges is one of only two American venues to host this important and eye-opening exhibition.
“Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art,”
May 26 – Sept. 3
O’Keeffe’s most important works are the centerpiece of this unique exhibition. Alongside these iconic artworks by the mother of American Modernism, the exhibition features artwork by a select group of emerging contemporary artists that evoke, investigate and expand upon O’Keeffe’s artistic legacy. This exhibition demonstrates the continuing power of O’Keeffe’s work as a touchstone for contemporary art.
“Native North America,” Oct. 6 – Jan. 7, 2019
This exhibit charts the development of contemporary Indigenous art from the United States and Canada from the 1960s to the present. The exhibition presents some 75 works of art by important Native artists — such as Kay WalkingStick, Carl Beam, Fritz Scholder, Andrea Carlson, and Kent Monkman — and features works in a wide range of media, including painting, drawing, photography, video, sculpture, sound, installation and performance art.
600 Museum Way, Bentonville
Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Monday, 11 a.m-6 p.m.; Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.;
closed Tuesday
Admission to permanent exhibits is free.
crystalbridges.org

Scott Family Amazeum

The Scott Family Amazeum is a hands-on, interactive museum for children and families. A museum with a foundation in the arts and sciences, the Amazeum encourages creativity, curiosity and community through exhibits, educational collaboration and programs, workshops and camps. Children can explore a climbable tree canopy, indoor cave, tinkering hub, nearly one acre of outdoor space and ever-evolving daily pop-up activities.

2018 Exhibits
“Hot Wheels,” – Jan. 27 – April 29
“Tape & Tunnels,” – May 12 – Oct. 1
“Curious Contraptions,” – June 2-
Sept. 3
“Magnificent Me,” – Oct. 15, 2018 – April 1, 2019
1009 Museum Way, Bentonville
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Tuesday
(479) 696-9280
Admission: $9.50; free for members and children under 2.
amazeum.org

US Marshals Museum in Fort Smith

Set to open in Sept. 24, 2019, the United States Marshals Museum will be a 50,000 square-foot world-class facility on the banks of the Arkansas River in Fort Smith, dedicated to serving as a national center of heritage and legacy, disseminating knowledge and inspiring appreciation for the accomplishments of the U.S. Marshals Service.

14 N. 3rd St., Fort Smith
479-709-3766
usmmuseum.org

3 Comments

  1. by Rae Ann Fields on January 19, 2018  10:51 am Reply

    Thanks for a great article. Thanks for including Old State House Museum. We are honored to be on the list with these other great facilities!

  2. by SSG. (Ret.) Daniel Horan on January 26, 2018  4:01 pm Reply

    I see the Arkansas National Guard Museum on Camp Joseph T. Robinson is passed over again. The museum covers Arkansas soldiers from the Civil War to Operation Iraqi Freedom. I have loaned most of my military collection to the museum and also find artifacts for the museum as well. Have you even been here? For the most part the museum is a little unknown jewel in the state of Arkansas. It's open from 9am to 3pm week days and during drill hours on saturdays. Dr.Screws is the director of the museum. Admission is free. Please help get our museum listed out to the public because it is open to the public. Security isn't as tight as the Air Base. Drivers Lic, ID, insurance and tell the guard your going to the museum.

    • Maggie McNeary
      by Maggie McNeary on February 1, 2018  3:49 pm Reply

      Hi SSG. Daniel Horan,

      Thanks for the feedback and for letting us know about the Arkansas National Guard Museum. If there are any events at the museum or special exhibits that you'd like AY to know about, you can email us at editor@aymag.com. Thanks again!

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